Telephone

Overview

The telephone begins to ring and ring and ring! From doves wanting gloves to baboons needing spoons, animal after animal calls, until the harried, hapless hero of this classic Russian nonsense poem is at his wits' end. Full color.
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Overview

The telephone begins to ring and ring and ring! From doves wanting gloves to baboons needing spoons, animal after animal calls, until the harried, hapless hero of this classic Russian nonsense poem is at his wits' end. Full color.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this arrestingly illustrated nonsense piece adapted from the Russian, a wispy-haired man answers unusual phone calls from a series of animals. A crocodile sheds tears while demanding "delicious, nutritious galoshes," some doves need gloves and baboons ask for spoons. Eventually, the telephone's owner tires of the random queries, and when Kangaroo calls for Winnie-the-Pooh, he rhymingly suggests she try 555-1212. Abruptly segueing to a conclusion, the man responds to a rhinoceros's SOS to save a hippo from a swamp ("Yuck. Just my luck,/ to get stuck/ hauling a hippo/ out of the muck!"). Tongue twisters and involved rhyme schemes demand that this book be read slowly, with attention to enunciation. Radunsky (The Maestro Plays) amplifies the absurdism of the verse with boldly planed collages of paper, photos, string and feathers. He wittily references other art-historical moments with a jungle backdrop borrowed from Rousseau, a piggy version of Matisse's The Dance and an otter reclining like an odalisque. The high visual energy overcomes the wayward motion of the text. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-A telephone directory listing assorted animals and the image of a crocodile demanding, "More delicious, nutritious galoshes!" decorate the end papers and clue readers into the zaniness within this book's pages. The story is about a man who can't get a minute's peace because his phone rings all day long: an elephant orders peanut butter, doves want gloves, porpoise has swallowed a tortoise, etc. Even in bed the ringing persists, and sleep must be abandoned when a rhinoceros calls and the harried hero reports on the last emergency of the day, "Yuck. Just my luck/to get stuck/hauling a hippo/out of the muck!" Chukovsky's nonsense poem "Telephone" appears to be loosely translated from the Russian and is aptly illustrated with mixed-media collages in Radunsky's distinctive surreal style. The bald and bespectacled narrator changes in skintone from pink to yellow to tan, walruses are orange, and British-style phone booths spring up in a double-page jungle scene. The bold colors, flat shapes, detailed cutouts, and changes in scale challenge the imagination and extend the silliness of the verse. Clever allusions to famous works of art are sprinkled throughout but will be lost on young viewers. Although rhymes are occasionally forced and some illustrations lack pizzazz, this book is fun to read aloud and large enough for group sharing. And, just as in real life, a perverse curiosity as to the identity of the next caller will successfully carry readers along.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Russian children and students of the Russian language are as familiar with this poem as American kids are with Dr. Seuss. This version adds a few modern twists to the basic theme and smooths some of the stodginess that results from direct translation.

The plot is simple: If the phone would just quit ringing, the narrator could get some peace and quiet. But his animal friends keep pelting him with requests. The crocodile wants delicious, nutritious galoshes, the doves demand gloves, the baboons require spoons. The rhyming nonsense continues throughout the day, until the exhausted narrator goes off to rescue a hippo stuck in the muck. That's where readers leave him, without knowing if he ever gets back to the land of nod. The rhyme bops along merrily, but the pictures provide the pizzazz. Radunsky pastes up photographed snippets of telephones and galoshes—along with jungle foliage swiped from Rousseau and fabric cut-outs—to provide colorful surroundings for his bright animal figures. The not-to-be-missed endpapers replicate pages from a phone book that lists first names such as "Smokey," "Teddy," and "Yogi" under the last name "Bear." Overall, a successful translation from east to west that proves the universal appeal of silliness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558584815
  • Publisher: North-South Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.71 (w) x 11.59 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Kornei Chukovsky (1880-1969) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is the author of many other popular children's stories, in addition to Doctor Ouch. Translator and illustrator Jan Seabaugh has studied languages and literature in Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. She received her Ph.D. in literature from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Jamey Gambrell has been translating Tatyana Tolstaya's fiction and nonfiction since 1990

Vladimir Radunsky has illustrated many wonderful books, including "The Maestro Plays" by Bill Martin Jr and Woody Guthrie's "Howdi Do." He is also the author-illustrator of "10" (ten) and (with Chris Raschka) of "Table Manners."

The children whose quotes appear in this book all attend The Ambrit International School in Rome. This is their first book.

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